There are many possible ways to compile a bibliography or to find relevant sources. The ability to conduct an efficient search through a wide variety of bibliographies, databases and catalogues is an essential skill for any historian. Introductions, handbooks and encyclopaedias (see the sections on literature research and source research) all offer valuable points of entry into a research topic.

The area of online research tools, in particular, is currently in the grips of dynamic change. One important consequence of this has been that bibliographies, databases, repositories and library catalogues are becoming more and more alike in terms of the functions and features which they offer their users. This forms part of a developing trend towards giving users the opportunity to conduct full-text online searches for academic texts as well as the chance to access these texts in full online. Despite this blurring of boundaries between the different types of bibliographic aids, there is still value in maintaining a distinction between the various kinds of research resources so as to foster an understanding of what search results actually represent.

See the German version of the History Toolkit for further German-language reading suggestions.